£84m boost for green aviation revolution
Groundbreaking aerospace projects to receive grants that could see the aviation industry go emissions-free as quickly as 2023.
The three ambitious aviation projects are based in Bedford, Bristol and Cranfield and will help the industry build back greener after the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic.
Greening the aviation sector
The lion's share of the funding has been secured by H2Gear for the development of a hydrogen liquid propulsion system that would eliminate carbon emissions. Leading a cohort of partners, they'll seek to develop their first aircraft by 2026, with the potential to create over 3,000 jobs over the following ten years.
Russ Dunn, chief technology officer for GKN Aerospace, said hydrogen power had the potential to keep the world connected while leaving dramatically cleaner skies. The only emissions from a hydrogen powered aircraft are water droplets.
Zero emissions engines
While H2Gear will collect £27.2m, ZeroAvia's HyFlyer II will receive £12.3m to scale up its zero emissions engine project to be capable of putting a 19 seat aircraft in flight.
ZeroAvia have already completed an eight minute hydrogen powered flight from their Cranfield base. The hydrogen fuel cell technology and hybrid powertrain are designed to be used on any platform, which could put zero emissions flights as close as 2023.
Although the test flight used a lightweight five-seater Piper Malibu, the company is confident that the powertrain will be capable of handling a 350 mile flight in the next few years.
The rise of hydrogen flight
Inception (Integrated Flight Control, Energy Storage and Propulasion Technologies), led by Blue Bear Systems Research, will receive £2.8m for a project that explores the feasibility of small scale fully electrified planes that could function over short distances, even within cities.
This project will investigate electric battery power rather than hydrogen technology and will develop a scalable propulsion module that is all-electric and suitable for aircraft under five tonnes in weight.
Blue Bear is a specialist in unmanned vehicle systems, so it seems likely that the scope of the project will focus on autonomous flight including air-taxi capabilities. Yoge Patel, Blue Bear CEO says the consortiums propulsion module is designed to bring 'game changing technology' to both unmanned and manned aviation. Patel promised to deliver unrivalled value and performance in this emerging sector.
The inherent scalability of the propulsion unit could enable a broad range of new mobility services, Patel said, from cargo drones to regional commuting by sub-regional eVTOL aircraft.
New green jobs
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy claims that greening the aviation sector could deliver 4,750 jobs across the UK in design, engineering and manufacturing.
Minister for Business, Paul Scully, said the projects would broaden the horizons for future air travel by investing in technology that could help the sector build back better and greener. The government is committed to advancing the UK's future transport infrastructure through the R&D Roadmap.
The investment comes ahead of a major Aviation Decarbonisation Strategy consulation planned for later in the year. Jet zero and low carbon aviation are seen as critical pillars to achieve the Prime Minister's green industrial revolution.
The grants form part of a wider £3.9bn investment in the sector through the Aerospace Growth Partnership.